Angel fire, p.45
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       Angel Fire, p.45

         Part #2 of Angel series by L. A. Weatherly
Page 45


  She started to say something, and stopped. “Nothing. I just – think I’m getting a cold. I’ve been feeling sort of strange ever since target practice. You probably don’t want to get too close. ”

  Her voice sounded strained. He tipped her chin up with his hand. “Hey. You’re not still worried about my migraine, are you? That was days ago. ”

  Willow flinched. “Maybe a little. ” She took a breath, hugging herself. “Alex, I sort of. . . I mean, there’s something. . . ”

  “What?” For an awful moment he thought she was going to say that she’d overheard Kara. Then he saw the expression in her eyes, and fear clutched him. “Willow, what’s wrong? What is it?”

  A burst of voices from the hallway: Sam and Brendan, arguing about some computer game. Willow bit her lip and glanced towards the door. Finally she shook her head. “It’s nothing,” she repeated. “Sorry. I – I guess I’m still just getting used to being here. ”

  Unconvinced, Alex took her hands in his, studying her face. “But I thought it was getting better for you. I mean, you and Liz were just in there sharing cooking tips. I’m expecting you to teach Sam how to fix engines next. ”

  Willow gave a short laugh. “Yes, dream on. It’s not that much better, really – I think Liz has finally decided that I’m not going to use the pepper mill to grind glass into everyone’s food at least. I don’t know. Ignore me. I’m just feeling kind of weird today. ”

  He didn’t understand what was going on; all he knew was that he hated seeing her so upset. He put his arms around her; she buried her face hard against his neck. “I love you,” she said in a muffled voice. “I mean – I really love you. You know that, don’t you?”

  Fear was now laced with complete bewilderment; this was so unlike her. Gently, he took her by the upper arms and forced her to look at him. “Babe, you’re scaring me. If there’s something going on, you’ve got to tell me what it is. ”

  “I know,” she said in a small voice. Again, she started to say something and then stopped, her eyes anxiously searching his own, her elfin face so lovely that it nearly broke his heart. The moment spun out around them; then Willow sighed and looked down, playing with the edge of his T-shirt.

  “I’m just feeling worried about how everything is going, that’s all,” she said dully. “I mean, what’s going to happen – if we’ll manage to defeat the Council or not. ”

  Alex watched her. “You’re sure that’s all it is?”

  She let out a shaky breath. “Isn’t that enough?”

  He snorted. “Yeah,” he said. “Yeah, that’s enough. ” He sighed and leaned against a stack of boxes. “Listen, I’ll be telling everyone later tonight. . . but we’re going on our first hunt tomorrow. ”

  Willow went motionless. “We are? You mean, me too?”

  “Yeah, all of us,” he said. “It’s time; I’ve got to get them some real-life practice, or they won’t stand a chance when the time comes. ” Then he saw the worried tightness of her features. “Hey, you’re okay with this, right? I mean, I’d sort of rather that you stayed here, actually, but I thought. . . ”

  “I’m fine with it,” she said after a pause. “Well, nervous. But fine. ”

  “Don’t worry, I won’t let anything happen to anyone,” said Alex. God, he hoped that was true. He pushed it away; the hunt was the last thing he wanted to think about when he actually had a few minutes alone with Willow for a change.

  He bent his head to hers again. He felt her hesitate, start to draw away – and then give in to the kiss in a rush. Alex’s pulse leaped as she pressed against him. Gently slipping his hand under her shirt, he caressed the silky smoothness of her skin, the soft warmth of her. For a few endless minutes there were only the two of them in the entire world.

  Willow pulled away with an abruptness that startled him. “I – sorry, I’m still getting this cold, remember?”

  “I don’t care,” he murmured as he reached for her again. “Germs are good. ”

  “No, really. I don’t want you to catch it. ” She stepped away, her cheeks flushed as she adjusted her shirt, not meeting his gaze. Alex’s eyebrows drew together. He was just about to ask if something was wrong again when she gave him a quick, apologetic smile. “I’ll see you at dinner, okay? Love you. ”

  Before he could respond she’d kissed him on the cheek and slipped out of the door, shutting it softly behind her.

  THEY TOOK THE METRO TO Chapultepec. In years past, Alex knew they might have been the only foreigners on the train; now, with the city so full of tourists to see the newly converted cathedral, their group hardly even merited a second glance.

  Only Trish and Liz got seats on the crowded car. Alex stood with the others, holding onto a looped strap that hung from the ceiling. Willow was next to him; as the train lurched she stumbled slightly and he put his arm around her, steadying her. He could feel her tension. They were all tense. Hanging onto the next strap, Sam stood tapping his thigh with his free hand; nearby, Wesley looked more sullen and closed-off than ever. Brendan was chattering away about not much at all, his voice high and nervous. Alex started to tell him to cool it, then Kara gave Brendan a look that did the job for him. She’d kept her word since their conversation the day before, to Alex’s relief – in fact, was acting so completely sister-like now that he almost wondered if he’d imagined it.

  They got off at Constituyentes; the entrance to the park stood nearby. Chapultepec was essentially a giant forest, and held everything you could think of – even a historic castle and an amusement park – but right here it was quiet. Alex could see paths, trees, smooth manicured grass. As they crossed the road and entered its grounds, a hush seemed to fall, leaving the noise of the city behind them.

  From Willow’s silence, Alex knew there weren’t any angels in sight yet. Just as he’d counted on, there weren’t many people here either on a weekday afternoon – though hopefully enough to attract some angels. The irony of hoping for an attack brought a dry smile. Closing his eyes, he lifted his consciousness through his chakra points; felt the others doing the same.

  “Okay, we’re going to split into two teams,” he said. “Kara, you lead Wesley, Liz and Brendan; I’ll take Sam, Trish and Willow. Keep out of sight if you can, but keep an eye on the main paths; that’s where the action will probably be. ”

  Kara nodded. “How long?” she asked, glancing at her cellphone. Alex had one too; he’d bought it at one of the outdoor markets that morning. He’d also grabbed some more clothes for himself and Willow while he was at it; he knew how sick she was of wearing borrowed stuff.

  “An hour, then we meet back here,” he said, checking the time. He returned the phone to the pocket of his blue hooded sweatshirt. “Call me if there’s any trouble. And happy hunting, guys – keep safe. ” He spoke the familiar words without thinking – it was what Cully had often said to them before a hunt, and then later on, Juan.

  And now him.

  From the look in Kara’s eyes, he knew she was thinking the same thing. “Will do,” she said, and led her team off through the trees.


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